Money is such an interesting concept to think about (Ha, Interest-ing). We essentially trade notes with unit numbers on them that represent some sort of good. $1 is actually 96% of a dozen eggs and .008% of a new motorcycle. We focus on the dollar itself as a representation of the cost of goods more so than the time/effort/energy it took to acquire the thing itself. Money, from the perspective of David Graeber, began to take its current shape when we went from a simple "I owe you" to a "I owe you x-number of something specifically" and the world has almost forgotten that it was built on a relationship of gift giving (we gave each other things with no explicit notion of "IOU").
I think it is time we rehashed our understandings of money because we are in the midst of rehashing our understanding of an economy.
In 2018 Kate Raworth gave a TED talk to explore and share the idea of the donut-economy. She shared that if we continue on with this belief that the economy is something of limitless growth, we are failing to realize the limited nature of our planetary capacities (i.e. limits on fresh water and other natural resources). As time goes on we are overusing resources in some areas while other areas of the planet are lacking basic social foundations. She shares that to live on Earth with some sustainability, we, as a species, need to find a balance to live within the donut.
With Raworth's new economic ideas in mind there comes questions of how we put a value on these internal "shortages" of gender equality and education. Of course gender equality and education are things we all can appreciate and see value in, but how can we measure that with the monetary systems we have today? How can I trade .008% of a motorcycle for "education"? Where are the quantifiable bits of education anyway? Is it classes taken? Degrees earned? Credit hours? How are we measuring that the formal education quantities are actually leading to an increase in educational knowledge? Should there be some formal tests? What are the testing standards?
Refocusing on money's origins in social teamwork in today's society is asking us to find answers to these tough questions. It gets us into the mindset of setting values on things like education, that help us all collectively, as HIGHER than those that help a singular individual.
I won't pretend to have the answers to this question, nor will I assume anything is particularly possible/impossible. I just feel as though there are many aspects of this donut that fail to be valued as they should. For example, how can we incentivize justice and peace? How can we put a monetary, or something tradable, value on social equity and gender equality? How can we create some "unit" of gender equality that can be readily traded from country to country?
The answers to these questions don't lay in the way we consider money today, as portions of a tangible unit, i.e. .008% of a motorcycle, but instead, I feel, lay in the hands of how we historically established money, as a system of IOU, except on a global scale. Countries helping other countries to meet their of social equity, or energy, simply saying, "Ok, I owe you," and when the time comes and the shoe is on the other foot, they will work together collaboratively.
I guess that what it all boils down into. Changing the perspective of society from that of country/city/states, to a global perspective and #wereallinthistogether
Image Credits © Mark Morgan.